I have rarely encountered a series of books that I enjoy re-reading, especially in my favorite mystery genre. But lately I have found myself re-reading the Longmire series by Craig Johnson. I discovered them last year when Longmire became a new series of A&E, and I decided to read the books to see what the fuss was all about. The first volume hooked me and I raced through everything he had written. Now that I am re-reading the books, I like them even more, kind of like slipping on an old comfortable pair of slippers.
Johnson is an interesting and talented writer, combining a wonderful ability to delineate memorable characters with write brisk, intelligent dialogue, and to create word poems of the beauty of the part of Wyoming where the stories are set. His mysteries also contain more than a soupcon of Cheyenne lore and mysticism and some chuckle-worthy humor. His main character, Walt Longmire, a crusty recent widower, has been the Sheriff of Absaroka County for 26 years and solves crimes the old fashioned way, with thought, intelligence, and consideration for the people of his county and the nearby Northern Cheyenne Reservation. He has an uneasy relationship with his daughter Cady, “the Greatest Legal Mind of Her Time,” who is a lawyer in Philadelphia. His best friend and right hand man is Henry Standing Bear, aka “the Cheyenne Nation,” an erudite man with whom Walt served in Vietnam and who now runs the Red Pony Bar and Grill and serves as Walt’s interface with the people of the reservation.
I highly recommend reading two shorter books by Johnson, which he wrote to fill in, and elaborate on, the relationships and characters: Christmas in Absaroka County and The Messenger. Both books are full of warmth and humor and deserve more than one read.